R18+ for games means more sex and gore?

Mike Bantick - ITWire
The Christian Lobby believes the argument for the introduction of an R18+ Classification for video games is being spun into a pro-child protection requirement. The fear is that once Australia has a new R18+ Classification for interactive entertainment that the market will be flooded with all manner of smut and extreme material. Do they have a point? It has been a debate for some time now. On one side, the moral crusaders; believing that continued censorship of certain consumables is the only way to go, there is no need to alter too much a system that has been in place for decades.

Saint Nick sacked from Victorian pre-school so not to offend religious groups

Elissa Doherty - Herald Sun
There's no holly in the halls, and Santa has been sacked. Christmas is out at a Victorian kindergarten, which is tiptoeing around any mention of the religious holiday.
Santa and his sleigh don't get a look in at Montessori Marvels Preschool in Greenvale which is striving to be everything to everybody. Children celebrate with an end-of-year party rather than a Christmas party and will part for the holidays wishing each other "Happy New Year". Premier Ted Baillieu has warned Victorians not to let political correctness ruin Christmas with some schools and community groups imposing yuletide bans in recent years.

Julian Assange in jail on rape charge

Peter Wilson and Paul Maley - The Australian
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been jailed in London after being arrested on a warrant based on four counts of alleged sexual assault committed in Sweden. The 39-year-old Australian was refused bail after a British judge ruled that there was a danger he might flee the country because the judge felt he had weak links to the UK and access to large amounts of money and support through his activity with the whistleblowing website. Senior District Judge Howard Riddle remanded Mr Assange in custody until December 14, when the extradition hearing will begin on whether the internet activist should be forced to return to Sweden to face the sex charges.

Clean-up of camps on track: Macklin

Patricia Karvelas - The Australian
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin yesterday declared her overhaul of Alice Springs town camps on track. But she conceded the goal of ending violence in the indigenous communities was not being achieved as quickly. One year on, eight houses have been built, 10 are under construction and 22 homes have been refurbished in the $150 million program to turn the 16 derelict town camps into a regular part of Australia. Seven rebuilds and refurbishments are under way and 65 of 500 temporary beds for visitors from remote outstations have been created to end overcrowding.

'Ban alcohol in strip clubs': report

The Age
A call to ban alcohol from Victorian strip clubs has infuriated venue operators. One of the main anti-prostitution lobby groups is demanding industry regulations be strengthened further under the new coalition government with a tough-on-crime mandate. In releasing a scathing report, the Coalition Against Trafficking Women Australia said strip clubs harmed women, increased crime rates and acted as a gateway into prostitution. The report said these venues could not be seen merely as entertainment, as they had far more in common with brothels and therefore needed similar restrictions and bans on liquor licences.

Baillieu minister lowers the volume on human rights

Daniel Flitton - The Age
Victoria's new Coalition government has demanded a ''more muted'' and ''low-key approach'' to human rights concerns, according to leaked advice to state public servants. Confidential emails obtained by The Age reveal Attorney-General Robert Clark has instructed the Department of Justice to scale back publicity for events this week designed to showcase human rights issues. Mr Clark will officially launch a ''Human Rights Week'' discussion panel today alongside prominent human rights barrister Julian Burnside and advocate for the homeless, James Farrell. But an email tells public servants that the Justice Department has ''removed all articles relating to human rights week from our intranet''. It also says planned promotional displays in the building's foyer will not be erected. ''We suggest it would be prudent for all departments to do the same,'' wrote Stephanie Ng, a legal policy adviser in the Justice Department.

Profile finds rapists ordinary and 'nice'

Adele Horin - SMH
The typical rapist is a charmer, not a misfit, new research shows. He is talkative, engaging and employed in a good job. He is not a loner, nor mentally ill. He can be found at work, at a party, at the pub, or even in the home. In the main he is not lurking in shadows waiting to pounce on unsuspecting women. He is known to the victim and has worked assiduously at getting her to trust him. The study of 33 sexual assault survivors by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found the image of a rapist as a compulsive, predatory sexual offender is, for the most part, way off the mark.

Small step to end evil of child marriage

Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu - SMH
The US has set an example we can follow in outlawing the shocking practice. DhakiI is from the southern region of Ethiopia. At age 13, instead of going to school, Dhaki was married and tended cattle for her family. Her husband, 11 years older than she, regularly forced himself on her. Her nightly cries were ignored by her neighbours, and she was shunned by her community for not respecting the wishes of her husband. Sadly, millions of girls worldwide have little or no choice about when and whom they marry. One in three girls in the developing world is married before she is 18 - one in seven before she is 15. The reasons vary: custom, poverty and lack of education all play a part. Boys are married young, too, but a far greater number of girls are affected and it has a much more devastating impact on their lives. Because they are young, child brides are relatively powerless in their families and often lack access to health information. This makes them more vulnerable to serious injury and death in childbirth - the leading cause of death in girls aged 15 to 19 in the developing world.

White mothers of stolen children also deserve an apology

Liz Hannan -    SMH
In an attempt to revive her battered image with Queensland voters, Julia Gillard and a dozen ministers and parliamentary secretaries journeyed north last week to convene a ''community cabinet'' in a school hall in the marginal Labor seat of Petrie. Little was expected of the evening. The Prime Minister's office did not keep a transcript of proceedings. But one exists and, among talk of sustainable fisheries and the $1.15 billion Petrie to Kippa-Ring rail line, was a significant exchange between Gillard and one of the 400 locals on hand. ''My name is Margaret Hamilton,'' she began. ''I'm from ALAS - Adoption Loss Adult Support. There are over 250,000 white mothers who lost their babies to forcible removal at birth by the same past illegal adoption practices as Aboriginal mothers. How do you feel personally? Should they receive an apology?'' The PM replied: ''I see in the media - and have heard sometimes face to face - some of the stories of women who face very devastating circumstances of having children taken, or being put under intolerable pressure to relinquish their children, in a different age and a different time.

Beloved Brotherhood's 80 years of kindness

Adam Carey - The Age
Best friends Pat Parker and Maureen O'Connor both grew up in postwar Richmond, when the narrow streets of ''Struggletown'' (as the suburb was then known) doubled as a giant children's playground. They were happy days, before fate dealt them both a shocking hand. Ms Parker married young, to a man who gradually morphed into a violent drunk. The beatings got so bad she left him. In time, alcohol consumed her too. She moved onto the streets, sleeping rough, until one day 33 years ago she walked into the Coolibah Centre, the Brotherhood of St Laurence's refuge in Fitzroy. Since then, she's returned almost daily.

After the election campaign from hell, Gillard faces more challenges in 2011

Michelle Grattan - The Age
Julia Gillard has named 2011 as her year of ''delivery and decision'' but the complications come by the day. Yesterday's resignation of Mike Taylor was the latest, following the potential difficulties for the federal hospitals plan caused by Ted Baillieu's election, and a battle under way with some states over a national schools curriculum. Another view of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority chief's departure is that, beyond a day of embarrassment, its practical result will be that a difficult player will be replaced by a more accommodating one. That's no doubt how Gillard will be looking at it. The PM is ending 2010 in a determinedly optimistic mood, despite Labor's poor poll figures (34 per cent primary vote in yesterday's Newspoll) and commentary questioning whether she is up to the job.

Condemned Christian woman now fears Pakistani extremists

Declan Walsh - The Age
Fears are growing for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death under Pakistani blasphemy laws, after a preacher and an influential newspaper called for ordinary Muslims to behead her if the courts do not carry out the hanging. A Punjabi court found the mother of five guilty of insulting the prophet Muhammad last month, acting on complaints from her Muslim neighbours. She was the first woman to be sentenced to hang under a harsh 1980s law that is frequently abused to persecute minorities. The case has inflamed public opinion, drawing protests from both the liberal minority and religious extremists. On Friday, the imam of Peshawar's oldest mosque, Maulana Yousaf Qureshi, offered a 500,000 rupee ($A5850) reward to anyone who killed Bibi if the court failed to hang her.

Broken Britain: Half of all parents split up before their children reach the age of 16

Tim Shipman - UK Daily Mail
Half of all children born today will see their parents split up before the age of 16, according to a shocking study of Broken Britain. The collapse of cohabiting relationships, rather than divorce, is to blame for the rise in family breakdown, says the research. It calls for the government to 'reassert marriage' and help strengthen the relationships of unmarried new parents. The number of children who will face family breakdown has soared from 40 per cent to 48 per cent over the last decade, according to analysis of official figures.